ANNE ZIEGLER ON HER OWN (1990 – 1995)

Before Anne left me to bathe and prepare for our evening ahead, she remarked that she could hardly believe I was there and that we were going to spend some time together at last.
“The years are drawing in so quickly now. We’ll probably never have a time together like this again,” she told me before she left me.

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After I met Webster and Anne again in 1973 we kept in touch
with each other. After Webster’s death, Anne began writing to
me regularly and when I told her that I planned to visit the UK
in 1990 she asked me to visit her for a few days in Penrhyn
Bay. We spent a very happy time together and we wrote to one another and spoke on the telephone until shortly before her death.

The fifty year copyright on some of Webster’s recordings had come to an end, so a CD was soon to be issued under the Flapper label, entitled Moonlight and You.

As Anne didn’t have a CD player – and I had only bought one when this CD came out, I made a tape of the recordings to take to Wales when I visited her.
Jean Buckley and Anne in Penrhyn Bay, about to set out to attend the RNCM award concert in Manchester.
April 1990 – the productions in which Peter and Jackie Firmani were featured, including Memories of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Anne turned 80 in June but did not want a party on that day as her birthday fell on the day after the first anniversary of Webster’s death. Instead, her friend Joan Tapper arranged for a late birthday picnic in the grounds of Erddig Hall.

Jean Buckley and Anne at Erdigg.
Anne’s birthday cake at Erddig Hall – 14 August 1990.
Cutting the cake.
Champagne at Erddig. A photo appeared in the local paper.
Anne with Joan Tapper (right) and a friend (left), not to mention Bonnie, Anne’s tiny Yorkie.
The picnic at Erddig for Anne’s late birthday.

After Webster’s death, Anne and I had written to one another regularly and with increasing frequency. The rift between us which had arisen during the nineteen-sixties had been gradually healed and we never ever discussed the reasons for it. When I told Anne of my plans to visit the UK she immediately suggested that I should visit her in Penrhyn Bay. Despite my sadness at the death of my father, I looked forward to the trip. It would be wonderful to see Anne once again.

On a day in mid-October I arrived at the bungalow at the appointed time to find Anne already in the driveway waiting for me. We greeted one another with pleasure. She was as beautiful as ever, but she appeared more delicate and fragile than I remembered her from seventeen years before.

The house was small but very comfortable with some of the lovely pieces of furniture and ornaments, remnants of the ”good old days”, together with the familiar pictures, and the cherished certificate from the Victory Royal Command Performance of 1945, signed by King George VI, in pride of place on the wall above the upright piano. The Chappell grand piano had been left behind in South Africa.

Anne said, “Sit yourself down”, the way Webster used to. Bonnie was a sweet little dog who insisted on sitting on my lap, despite her bad leg, to be fed titbits of scones, fruit cake and chocolate cake provided by Anne’s friends for our first tea together.

Anne was kind and friendly. I soon felt as though I had seen her last only the week before. After tea and a preliminary chat she took me round to the hotel to introduce me to Mrs Hall, the proprietor of the Orotava, and to see my pleasant room, which was decorated with a pretty floral bedspread and matching curtains, with a view over the grey Irish Sea.

The Orotava Hotel, round the corner from Anne’s bungalow.
My bedroom at the Orotava Hotel.

Before Anne left me to bathe and prepare for our evening ahead, she remarked that she could hardly believe I was there and that we were going to spend some time together at last.

“The years are drawing in so quickly now. We’ll probably never have a time together like this again,” she told me before she left me.

The bungalow, Penrhyn Bay.
We spent a wonderful few days together. While I was there I took a few photos of Anne and she took a few photos of me. Bonnie was in all the photos! I shall write a shortened version of my visit taken from my book and post it in the blog.

On Sunday we had lunch in the Queen’s Head.

Before I had gone to the UK I had been feeling rather depressed after my father’s death. My stay with Anne had built up my self-confidence as she had encouraged me to do more with my musical and academic gifts. I asked her whether she would update the testimonials she and Webster had given me when I went to the UK in the mid-sixties. She agreed at once, and not long after I returned to South Africa I received the testimonial she had written for me. I will always treasure it, just as I will always treasure the hundreds of letters she and Webster wrote to me over the years.

In fact, the photo was taken in 1981 at the Silver wedding party of Jean and Maurice Buckley.
3 January 1991.
The awards continued for some time. Unfortunately, Esso withdrew its sponsorship in the mid-nineties and the last award in Webster’s name was made in 2002. Anne’s award continued for some time although it was no longer the lavish presentation it had been. It too was discontinued a few years ago. Read more about the awards at: WEBSTER BOOTH/ANNE ZIEGLER AWARDS
1991 birthday party at Joan Tapper’s home in Mold. Anne with Allun Davies (centre) and Joan Tapper (right) 22 June 1991
Allun Davies and Anne – birthday lunch for Anne’s 81st birthday.
Babs Wilson-Hill and Anne at Jean Buckley’s house (circa early nineties)
16 October 1991. Anne on The Seven Ages (BBC Radio 2)
Bonnie aged ten and a half. Dece,ber 1993
Photo for the Evergreen article. December 1993.
Anne kindly sent me a copy of this cassette.
Anne, Joan, Jean and her husband Maurice.

In 1994 Anne had some pleasure when a BBC team came to the bungalow to record her part of The Webster Booth Story, a radio tribute to Webster on the tenth anniversary of his death. She told me that the bookof cuttings I had presented to her in 1990 had been a great help in jogging her memory for the interview. She became friendly with the script writer, Stephen Pattinson and his father, as well as Robin Gregory, the narrator, and Tony Wills, the producer. The programme was broadcast on 26 June 1994 on Radio Two, and not long afterwards Anne sent me a recording of the programme.

This programme was presented 10 years after Webster’s death. It is an excellent programme. I was pleased to get to know the presenter, Robin Gregory and the writer, Stephen Pattinson some years later.
Circa 1995. Anne accompanied Jean when she sang at a concert in Llandudno. Anne is on the right, Jean extreme left.
Maurice, Jean and Anne – on holiday together (mid-nineties).

MESSAGES SENT TO MY WEBSITE REGARDING WEBSTER AND ANNE (2008 – 2011).

The following messages were sent to me since I have been running this web page. I am also including additional interesting information in note form. I will protect writers’ privacy by omitting surnames. Click on the links to hear relevant recordings. 31 August 2008 I am writing a history of a music firm in New Zealand, Charles Begg and Co. They were the firm responsible for bringing Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth to New Zealand. I am trying to find out all I can about their tour here and was wondering if you have any information, and, possibly, any photographs. I have got a copy of their autobiography which does deal with the tour but would welcome any additional information. Many thanks. Clare My co-author of the book, Do you remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth?, Pamela Davies had received a book of cuttings concerned with Anne and Webster’s tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1948. Pam kindly agreed to compile a list of press cuttings which featured Anne and Webster on their tour. She sent this to me by post and I e-mailed it to Clare. Clare used the list when she went to the National Library to find the cuttings. She found some of the microfiche copies indecipherable but kindly sent me typed copies of some of the articles she managed to locate. Anne and Webster arriving in New Zealand (1948)
Anne and Webster arrive in New Zealand. (1948)
6 March 2009 HI, Jeannie I was searching the internet for a song called and the only one I found was on your site in the listing for the This is the song of the Pirate Ship (Heigh Hi Ho) Nursery School Sing-Along No. 2. I know the tune of the song but really need the lyrics as I can’t remember more than 2 verses and I want to teach it to my class. Are you able to help me? Thanks a lot! Regards, Sharon I was glad to help Sharon by sending her an MP3 of the song. She was delighted with it and looked forward to teaching it to her class. 6 March 2009 I have 3 photos of Tom Howell’s Opieros….would you like to have electronic copies? Ken, Swansea Although the photographs were taken before Webster joined the Opieros in 1927, I was delighted to have them. They included Ken’s great grandmother’s sister, Anita Evans of Llanelli. Recently I have added an article to the blog about Tom Howell’s Opieros and I hope to find out more information about Anita’s role in the concert party soon.
Tom Howell’s Opieros. Anita Edwards is to the upper right of Tom Howell who is in the middle of the photo.
8 March 2009 I am Rutland Boughton’s grand-daughter and am very interested to realize that Webster Booth sang The Faery Song from the Immortal Hour. I wondered whether you could email me and we could chat from thereon. I look forward to hearing from you. Best wishes, Elaine. Rutland Boughton was on the staff of the Midland Institute, Birmingham when Webster was studying singing there with Richard Wassell. I was able to send Elaine an MP3 of Webster’s recording of The Faery Song and she, in turn, sent copies to members of her family. Later I became Facebook friends with Elaine. 20 March 2009 Their ‘autobiography’ Duet was ghostwritten by the late Frank S. Stuart. I have researched his background in my critical analysis of the Jasper Maskelyne War Magician myths. Frank was adept at presenting amusing tales that were only loosely based on factual events. I have not yet read Duet. I am interested in hearing from you. How accurate a memoir is it? Richard. I exchanged several e-mails with Richard about the ghostwriter, Frank S. Stuart. Anne and Webster wrote the latter part of Duet themselves as they felt that Stuart was implying that they were pacifists (as he himself was). It says a lot for the editor at the publisher Stanley Paul that one cannot tell at what point of the book Frank S. Stuart finished writing and where Anne and Webster continued. Update: Since then I have digitised Duet with the help of John Marwood who proofread my digitisation meticulously. It is available as a paperback and an ebook at: My Bookshop  Various other books concerning Anne and Webster are available at the same link.
Duet – originally published by Stanley Paul in 1951. Digitised by me several years ago.
10 April 2009 I was really interested to read that you have in your collection the LPs of the 1963 and 1964 performances of ELIJAH and CREATION in the PMB City Hall. I sang in both these performances as a schoolboy. Any idea how or where I could obtain a copy of either the complete version or even some extracts – and/or a copy of the album sleeves? I recall that the ELIJAH LP box featured the Rose window in the Michaelhouse chapel. Chris EDINBURGH As luck would have it I had been given copies of the LPs which I had transferred to CD several years before and sent copies to the music department of Michaelhouse and to Barry Smith in Cape Town who had conducted the performance when he was director of music at Michaelhouse in 1963. I was able to send Chris the CDs by post and e-mail him a copy of the cover of Elijah which features the Rose window of the Michaelhouse chapel.
Elijah at Michaelhouse School, Balgowan, Natal – September 1963.
Chris shared an amusing anecdote of what had occurred at an Elijah rehearsal: Your comment about Webster showing some strain on the high notes was possibly not only due to his age. I vividly remember a slightly risque comment he made when he arrived for the first Elijah rehearsal with the orchestra and chorus. Barry Smith had the duty of forewarning him that the Pietermaritzburg organ was pitched notoriously sharp and that the orchestra had to tune their instruments up a semitone. Without batting an eyelid, Webster assured him that it was no problem and he would just ‘wear an extra jock-strap!’, a ‘throw away line’ which was the source of much amusement to the teenage boys and girl in the chorus. Update: September 2018. Unfortunately, the postal system in South Africa has all but collapsed since that post was written. The Rand is also in a parlous state, so the days of sending anything by post are long gone. Elijah at Michaelhouse 1963 A brief recitative from the recording.

April 2009 SYLVIA WATSON (NEE REILLY) FROM NEW ZEALAND WRITES:

I have some information about the Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth Springs Operatic Society shows. The 1960 production of A Country Girl was held in the Springs Little Theatre, rather than the Civic Theatre which, I think, was only built in the late sixties or early seventies. John Wilcox and Corinne van Wyk were the leads and I was in the chorus.

The Desert Song was held in the same theatre in October-November 1961. I was in the chorus again for The Desert Song. Incidentally, during the interval a young man from the audience came to the stage door and asked if he could speak to me. We married in 1964 and now live together in New Zealand. So I think we owe Anne and Webster a vote of thanks.

Sylvia Watson

July 2009 Alan Marsh writes: As a teenager in the 1940s I had saved my money to go and hear Webster Booth in Sweet Yesterday at the Adelphi Theatre in London. When the night arrived, and just before the performance, they announced that Webster was ill and Heddle Nash took his place. It was magnificent of course, but it was some years before I could have the thrill of hearing Webster Booth in person, but the years of pleasure that followed, before he died, leave wonderful memories of a great English tenor.

I might add that many years ago while I was on Vancouver Island, I went into a little bookshop and came across Anne and Webster’s delightful autobiography Duet, together with her autograph in the book. It not only made my day – but my year too! Percy Bickerdyke, the music editor of Evergreen, was doing an article on them some years ago and he was thrilled to borrow the book from me. It is one of my treasures.

Alan Marsh.

21 September 2009 – My comment. Congratulations to Sipho Fubesi (tenor) from Centane in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, who is this year’s winner of the Anne Ziegler prize at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. 14 October 2009 – My comment. I was very sorry to hear of the death of the Scottish baritone, Ian Wallace at the age of 90. He was one of my favourite singers and I always enjoyed his pithy comments on the BBC programme My Music. He could sing opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, musicals, and Flanders and Swann with the best of them but was not above turning his hand to comic songs with great effect like I can’t do my bally bottom buttons up, Lazin’, and even the rather rude one,  Never do it at the station. My personal favourite was his heartfelt singing of Limehouse Reach by Michael Head. He will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by many. 18 October 2009 – a message from Simon. I just wanted to say how interesting and informative your blog on Anne Ziegler is and how much I have enjoyed the youtube videos. I have been listening to Anne Ziegler since I was 14 and got hold of an old LP, I’m 26 now. I was struck by the video of her singing A Song in the Night. it is beautiful and I wish so much I had it on cd. Do you know of any re-issues featuring it or anywhere I could download it? Also, I thought you may be interested to know there is a video of her on British Pathe.com singing it in 1936 – but alas no sound!!! Wasn’t she beautiful! Thank you, Best regards, Simon I sent Simon an MP3 of Anne’s recording of A Song in the Night by Loughborough. I think this is one of Anne’s best solo recordings. Click on the link to listen. 1 December 2009 – My comment. Tenor, Sipho Fubesi is currently appearing as Paris in the RNCM production of La Belle Helene by Offenbach.

Elizabeth Anne Bailey: My mother and father, Eric and Ivy Johnson were keen amateur singers in Liverpool. My father was a rather talented tenor and might have been professional with the right encouragement. I can’t remember the details of this story well, but one day, I guess it must have been in the early eighties (?), they were wandering …along the beach in Llandudno and my mother said: ‘There’s Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’, and so it was. They fell into conversation and ended up being invited into Anne and Webster’s house for tea, much to their delight.

I replied: What a lovely story – quite typical of Anne and Webster who were friendly and down to earth. Anne was originally from Liverpool so she would have warmed to your parents from her home town. The meeting probably took place in the late seventies or early eighties, as Webster died in 1984.

Charles Jenkins: I remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth fondly from listening to them as a child on the radio. I say ‘remember fondly’ …. this is my recent feeling. As a child, I can not say that I was able to appreciate them …. but WHAT did I know then? I also think that since they were great favourites of my father, I was put off enjoying them. Some rebellions are really stupid in retrospect! I have been listening to them anew on YouTube and have been fortunate enough to re-discover them and lucky enough to realize that they were, and still are, very, very good. I am grateful to Jean for reminding me of them.

Jean Collen. Updated on 10 September 2018.

JEAN BUCKLEY (26 May 1930 – 20 July 2017)

In 1943, Jean Buckley (née Newman) was thirteen years of age, living in wartime Manchester. Jean, an only child, was originally from London and the family had lived in Brighton for a time. When the war came her father decided that they might be safer living in Manchester. This did not prove to be the case. Jean spent many nights in a damp air raid shelter as German bombs fell on the city.

Jean had always loved Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s singing. She had a clear memory of hearing Webster singing Phil, the Fluter’s Ball with Fred Hartley and his quintet on the radio when she was a young child. As light relief from the sleepless nights in the damp air raid shelter, she and her mother attended many of their concerts and broadcasts in the city. They went backstage to see the couple and Jean saved her pocket money and collected coupons so that she could buy gifts to present to Anne when they went backstage. Anne and Webster saw Jean so often that they sent them complimentary tickets for broadcasts of Variety Bandbox and Variety Fanfare. She remembers Webster coming into the dressing room and greeting them with, “How are my two lovelies this evening?”

When Jean left school she went to work for Singer’s Sewing Machines and became a top sales woman with the company. Unknown to Anne and Webster she began to take singing lessons on a part time basis at the Northern School of Music and managed to obtain a few engagements. She told me that she did not mention this to the Booths in case they felt obliged to use their influence to advance her singing career.

Jean married Maurice Buckley in 1956 but was very upset when Anne and Webster decided to move to South Africa in the same year. They kept in touch with the Booths and she sent them copies of The Stage and other British newspapers while they were living there.

Maurice and Jean Buckley (1956)

When they returned to the UK in 1978 they lived near Jean and Maurice, and spent a lot of time with them. Jean said that Webster always enjoyed watching cricket on TV with Maurice. Jean baked a cake for Anne and Webster’s fortieth wedding anniversary in 1978.

Jean and her poodle, Trixie

A few years later, Jean and Maurice celebrated their Silver wedding anniversary. Here is a lovely photograph of Anne and Webster on that happy occasion. I used this photo as a front cover to my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

Anne and Webster (1981)

When Webster became ill and was admitted to a nursing home, Jean visited him regularly and took him out for a drive or for tea occasionally to give him a break from the nursing home. She put a tape recording of his records on the car radio. He disliked the nursing home and never wanted to return after his outing with Jean.

After his death, Jean did a great deal for Anne in one way and another. Jean was very hurt when Anne’s friend, Babs Wilson Hill introduced her to someone as “Anne’s greatest fan.” Jean replied, “I think I might be considered Anne’s greatest friend by now.”

The first time I heard of plans to establish a scholarship in Webster Booth’s name at the Royal Northern College of Music was in a letter from Anne Ziegler, dated 20 November 1985, just over a year after Webster Booth’s death on 21 June 1984.

Anne mentioned that a coffee morning had been held in the local church hall in aid of the Webster Booth Memorial Fund. Jean had proposed the idea of providing a scholarship in Webster’s name for a tenor to attend the RNCM for a year’s post-graduate study. Jean and her husband, Maurice worked hard to raise money for the Fund and by the time Anne wrote to me £1,600 had been raised towards the initial goal of £3,500. Anne’s letter continued:

November 20 1985 Anne to me

I wondered why the scholarship was to be awarded at the RNCM as Webster had studied singing with Dr Richard Wassall at the Midland Institute in Birmingham, fitting in lessons after he finished work at a firm of accountants. I knew that conductor Sir Charles Groves was chairman of the RNCM council at that time and Webster had often referred to him affectionately as “Charlie Groves” who had often conducted him in radio broadcasts, so I though that perhaps this was why Jean had chosen the RNCM for the Award.

Many years later, Jean told me why she had chosen the RNCM. In her late teens, she had studied singing part-time at the Northern School of Music, Manchester. This school and the Royal Manchester College of Music amalgamated in 1975 to form the Royal Northern College of Music, which was producing singing graduates of a very high calibre. Manchester was not too far from North Wales where Anne, Jean and Maurice lived. The trip to the College for the annual competition would not be too onerous for Anne as she grew older and it would not be necessary to stay overnight in the city after the Award had been presented.

Jean’s friend, journalist and broadcaster Natalie Anglesey, interviewed her on the BBC about the Webster Booth Memorial Fund, bringing news of it to a wider radio audience. Jean’s interview with Natalie

 Jean continued to raise funds by making things to sell, doing clothing alterations for a small fee, organising raffles, and collecting donations to the Fund from friends, fans, relatives of Webster and Anne, and local neighbours. Donations were often as little as £1 or £2, but occasionally bigger donations were made by societies such as the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. Webster’s older brother, Edwin Norman Booth, his wife Annie and daughter Margaret took great interest in the progress of the Fund and helped Jean with fund-raising. Annie made beautiful rag dolls to sell, and each member of the family made regular substantial donations. Jean’s early singing training at the Northern College also benefited the Fund in a round-about way. She and her accompanist, Maureen, began entertaining at hotels around Llandudno and all the money Jean earned in this way went towards the fund. To publicise the Award she gave talks to various societies and clubs about Anne and Webster’s career.

Anne and Jean in Penrhyn Bay before going to the Royal Northern College, Manchester for the prize winners’ concert for the Webster Booth prize.

I did not meet Jean when I visited Anne in Penrhyn Bay in 1990, although Anne told me a great deal about her while I was there. Jean had even made a cake for our tea! Jean and I began our correspondence in 2007 and we often said how sorry we were that we had not met each other in 1990 as we could have become good friends.

After Webster’s death, Anne went on holiday with the Buckleys every year. They usually took self-catering accommodation and Jean did all the cooking.

Maurice and Jean on holiday with Anne and Bonnie in the 1990s.

Jean did a great deal to help Anne as she got older. She and Maurice created an en suite room in their home and would have been happy to have Anne to live there if ever she felt unable to continue living in her own home. Even when Maurice became ill, Jean still took Anne shopping, to doctor’s appointments and to the annual prize winners’ concert at the RNCM. When Anne’s gardener could not continue working Jean even helped Anne with the gardening!

Sadly, Anne and Jean fell out over a trivial matter several years before Anne’s death and they were never reconciled. I corresponded regularly with Jean for over ten years and I was sad when she lost her sight and had to move to a frail care home. She developed Alzheimer’s disease and I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to be in strange surroundings, unable to see and not remembering very much. She was an only child and had no children of her own. I was sad to hear that she died on 20 July 2017 at the age of eighty-seven. I hope she is now at peace. I will treasure the letters and emails she wrote to me, and the photos and memorabilia she sent to me. She will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered by me and friends who loved her.

Jean Collen ©

23 July 2017

 

WEBSTER BOOTH/ANNE ZIEGLER AWARDS AT ROYAL NORTHERN COLLEGE OF MUSIC, MANCHESTER

So the story of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler awards at the RNCM comes to an end, although perhaps one day a new sponsor might be found to reinstate them The names of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler might have been forgotten historical musical figures today, but thanks to the efforts of Jean and the late Maurice Buckley, and the generosity of the RNCM in creating and staging the awards for some time, Anne and Webster’s names and voices are known to many professional singers of the present generation. 

 
 
 
 
 
Webster Booth 
 
The first time I heard of plans to establish a scholarship in Webster Booth’s name at the Royal Northern College of Music was in a letter from Anne Ziegler, dated 20 November 1985, just over a year after Webster Booth’s death on 21 June 1984.
In a letter, Anne mentioned that a coffee morning had been held in the local church hall in aid of the Webster Booth Memorial Fund. Jean Buckley, Anne and Webster’s friend and fan of 42 years standing had proposed the idea of providing a scholarship in Webster’s name for a tenor to attend the RNCM for a year’s post-graduate study. Jean worked hard to raise money for the Fund and by the time Anne wrote to me £1,600 had been raised towards the initial goal of £3,500. Anne’s letter continued, “The place was packed – which delighted us. Everyone local turned up and it was a great success and we raised £400 towards the Fund.”
I wondered why the scholarship was to be awarded at the RNCM as Webster had studied singing with Dr Richard Wassall at the Midland Institute in Birmingham, fitting in lessons after he finished work at a firm of accountants. I knew that conductor Sir Charles Groves was chairman of the RNCM council at that time and Webster had often referred to him affectionately as “Charlie Groves” who had often conducted him in radio broadcasts, so I though that perhaps this was why Jean had chosen the RNCM for the Award.
Many years later, Jean Buckley told me why she had chosen the RNCM. In her late teens she had studied singing part-time at the Northern School of Music, Manchester. This school and the Royal Manchester College of Music amalgamated in 1975 to form the Royal Northern College of Music, which was producing singing graduates of a very high calibre. Manchester was not too far from North Wales where Anne, Jean and her husband, Maurice lived. The trip to the College for the annual competition would not be too onerous for Anne and it would not be necessary to stay overnight in the city after the Award had been presented.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Anne and Bonnie with Jean and Maurice Buckley on holiday in the nineties.

In 1985 Jean wrote to The Stage, as follows:

“Close friends and relations of the late Webster Booth are anxious to provide a yearly scholarship for a tenor student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Any admirers of Webster Booth and the contribution he made to music world, who wish to join in this tribute, can send cheques or money orders to the Webster Booth Memorial Fund….Llandudno, Gwynedd.”
There was little response to her letter, but, undaunted, she continued to raise funds by making things to sell, doing clothing alterations for a small fee, organising raffles, and collecting donations to the Fund from friends, fans, relatives of Webster and Anne, and local neighbours. Donations were often as little as £1 or £2, but occasionally bigger donations were made by societies such as the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. Webster’s older brother, Edwin Norman Booth, his wife Annie and daughter Margaret took great interest in the progress of the Fund and helped Jean with fund-raising. Annie made beautiful rag dolls to sell, and each member of the family made regular substantial donations. Jean’s early singing training at the Northern College also benefited the Fund in a round-about way. She and her accompanist, Maureen, began entertaining at hotels around Llandudno and all the money Jean earned in this way went towards the fund. To publicise the Award she gave talks to various societies and clubs about Anne and Webster’s career.
South Africa’s prime minister, P. W. Botha’s disappointing “Rubicon” speech saw the South African Rand rapidly lose value, but my husband and I were determined to make a donation although Anne discouraged me from doing so. Our R100 realised nearly £30 in 1986. At the time we thought the Rand was worthless but now, in 2017, R100 would exchange at less than £6!
Sir David Scott had been the British Ambassador to South Africa in the 1970s and Anne and Webster had been invited to the Embassy in Cape Town with the Kings’ Singers after one of their concerts. Brian Kay had persuaded them to sing The Keys of Heaven to his accompaniment at the gathering.
In the meantime, a friend of the Buckleys, music critic, John Robert Blunn suggested that they should contact the Palace Theatre, Manchester, managed by Bob Scott – later Sir Bob Scott – the son of Sir David. In turn, Sir Bob sent Mrs Buckley’s letter on to his father. Not only did Sir David make a generous personal donation but the New Moorgate Trust, a charitable fund based in London, which he managed, made a donation of £5000.00, giving a welcome boost to the Fund. Sir Bob also suggested that Jean should contact the Granada Trust and this Trust made a donation of £1000.00. Companies and deceased estates made substantial donations, including Lloyds Bank, N Smith Charitable Settlement, Tom Chandley Limited, and the Estate of Mary Paine. The Bramley Trust gave a generous donation to the Fund and Mrs Bramley made a personal donation to Jean to thank her for all her hard work. Needless to say, Jean added this amount to the Fund.
Jean’s friend, journalist and broadcaster Natalie Anglesey, interviewed her on the BBC about the Webster Booth Memorial Fund, bringing news of it to a wider radio audience. Jean’s interview with Natalie
On 6 June 1986 Jean was able to take a cheque for £3250.00 to the RNCM. The first Webster Booth Award was finally presented on 10 December 1986. Jean and Maurice had donated £500 for the prize rather than deplete the £3250.00 which Jean had given to the RNCM earlier that year.
The Duchess of Kent had presented diplomas to RNCM students at a graduation ceremony earlier that day so Jean and Anne were presented to her before she left the college. Later that evening Anne gave the cheque for £500.00 to tenor, Geraint Dodd, the first winner of the Webster Booth Award. There had been no time to hold a competition but the RNCM named Geraint Dodd as the most promising tenor of that year. In turn Geraint Dodd handed Anne a rose as he sang Only a Rose to her. Anne joined him in the singing and the audience, which included Joseph Ward (then head of Vocal Studies) and important guests who had attended the earlier graduation ceremony were touched and delighted. Anne was a STAR on that memorable night. Geraint Dodd joined the Welsh National Opera immediately after his graduation.
The following year, the prize money was increased to £750.00. The adjudicators of the competition were Alexander Young, Sylvia Jacobs and Caroline Crawshaw. Stephen Rooke, a Welsh tenor won the award and received his prize from Anne. It was hoped that the prize money the following year would increase further to £1000.00.
Maurice Buckley typed hundreds of letters to big business and in 1988 Esso plc became a sponsor for the Webster Booth Award. The RNCM also found an additional anonymous sponsor. With this sponsorship the award became much bigger in scope. Esso agreed to sponsor public concerts for the fund the following year. There would be three finalists competing for the award. In 1988 Anne was one of the three judges and presented the prize to New Zealander, Paul Whelan, then a bass baritone. Later Paul Whelan became a baritone and won the Song Prize in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1993.
The prize was not awarded in 1989 but in 1990 the competition for the Webster Booth/Esso Award was held once again and this time the prize money was £5000.00. It had been decided that the competition would no longer be limited to tenors and that all male singers could enter the competition. In 1990 the panel of judges for the final were Ryland Davies (chairman), Anne Ziegler and Ava June.
At the end of 1990, at the suggestion of Joseph Ward, head of Vocal and Opera Studies, the College and Esso decided that a similar award should be made in Anne Ziegler’s name and the first Anne Ziegler/Esso Award for outstanding merit was made to Scottish soprano Rosalind Sutherland in 1991. This Award of £1000.00 was to be used towards the winner’s postgraduate studies at the RNCM. Prospective candidates were asked to perform works, including a duet, which reflected “the wide-ranging repertoire of the legendary tenor Webster Booth and his widow Anne Ziegler, whose remarkable partnership is commemorated in these awards”. By 1992 the competition was open to all suitably qualified singers regardless of gender.
The winner of the Webster Booth/Esso Award would receive £5000.00 for one year’s postgraduate study at the college, a stage audition at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and have engagements with the Hallé orchestra and the Camerata Orchestra. Under Esso sponsorship, the two prizes were awarded each year. Anne no longer judged the competition but continued to present the prizes and address the audience. Although she was over eighty and not in the best of health she continued to delight audiences with her charming speech at the finalists’ concerts. Anne was no longer performing so attending these concerts and presenting prizes to the winners gave her many more years of direct involvement with music than she would otherwise have enjoyed. She always said that on these wonderful occasions she and Jean were “treated like royalty” by everyone associated with the presentation at the RNCM.
Because of changes in company policy Esso terminated its sponsorship of the Webster Booth/Anne Ziegler awards in 1996. Esso gave a year’s notice about this change in order to give the Buckleys a chance to find new sponsors for the awards. In the interim period it was decided that the College would find £1000.00 for the Webster Booth Award while the original money raised by the Buckleys would yield £1000.00 for the Anne Ziegler Award.
 
Once again, the Buckleys began writing to various institutions hoping to find new sponsorship, including Arts for Everyone and the National Lottery, but unfortunately their appeal was turned down by both these institutions. The College in 2001 and 2002 found a generous sponsor in Chartered Accountants Lloyd Piggott.
 
In 2000, the year of Anne’s ninetieth birthday, the RNCM hosted a luncheon party for Anne at Bodysgallen Hall Hotel, Llanrhos. The RNCM was represented by Christopher Yates and Eileen Henry. Jean and Maurice Buckley and the winners of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler awards for that year, Sarah Cox (soprano) and Tom Raskin (tenor) were guests at the lunch. In 2001 the judges were Adele Leigh, John Savident and Caroline Crawshaw. Unfortunately Anne was unable to attend the competition. Her health was failing and she died two years later on 13 October 2003.
 
Sadly, the Webster Booth Award was discontinued after 2002 when soprano Lee Bissett from Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, won £2000.00. She went on to represent Scotland in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2005.
 
Earlier winners of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler Awards who also represented their countries in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, included:
 
Paul Whelan WB Award 1988 (baritone): New Zealand, 1993, Song Prize winner
Ashley Holland WB Award 1994 (baritone) England 1995
Rosalind Sutherland AZ Award 1991 (soprano) Scotland 1995 Finalist
Roland Wood WB Award 1998 (baritone) England 2003
 
The College continued to present the Anne Ziegler Award each year. When asked by the late Eileen Henry, Development Manager of the RNCM in 2002, Jean agreed that the Anne Ziegler Award should continue, funded by the remaining money she and her husband Maurice had helped to raise. I am not sure if Anne’s award continues as I have lost contact with the RNCM and Jean Buckley is no longer in good health. The winner in 2009 was tenor Sipho Fubesi from Centane, Eastern Cape, South Africa, which would have pleased Anne since she and Webster had lived and worked in South Africa for 22 years.

WEBSTER BOOTH AWARD WINNERS 

 1986 Geraint Dodd, tenor 

1987 Stephen Rooke, tenor, Wales

1988 Paul Whelan, Bass baritone. (Represented New Zealand in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and won the Song Prize 1993) 
1989 No prize awarded
1994 Ashley Holland –baritone (Represented England in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 1995)
1995 Darrell Babidge – baritone (shared)
1996 Mari-Kjersti Tennfjord – soprano
1997 Antonia Sotgiu – mezzo soprano
1998 Roland Wood –bass-baritone (changed to baritone) (Represented England in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2003)
1999 Toby Stafford-Allen – baritone
Lee Bissett–soprano. (Represented Scotland in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2005) 

ANNE ZIEGLER AWARD WINNERS

 1991 Rosalind Sutherland –Soprano (Represented Scotland in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 1995 and was a finalist in the competition)
1997 Daniel Broad baritone
2002 Stephen Pascoe – baritone
2005 Simon Buttle – tenor England  Simon Buttle was the last singer to win the Anne Ziegler Award by competition.
After 2005 the concert was no longer held and the award was made to a promising singer by the Head of Vocal and Operatic Studies in consultation with departmental staff.
2006 Sarah Lawson
2007 Cressida van Gordon – soprano
2011/2012 Stuart Orme

2015/16 Fiona Finsbury

Suzie Thompson, the Director of  Development at the RNCM told me that in 2016  it was decided that the College had been funding the Anne Ziegler award for a number of years without any external funding to support the payment of the award.  Several of the prizes were cut in that year.  Apart from financial considerations, the students were under great pressure preparing for an increasing number of prizes and competitions so it was thought that it would be better that they should compete for fewer prizes.

Jean Buckley died in July 2017 and I believe she made a bequest to the RNCM to present an award in the joint names of her and her late husband, Maurice, who did so much work to create and finance the Webster Booth award in 1986.

So the story of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler awards at the RNCM comes to an end, although perhaps one day a new sponsor might be found to reinstate them The names of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler might have been forgotten historical musical figures today, but thanks to the efforts of Jean and the late Maurice Buckley, and the generosity of the RNCM in creating and staging the awards for some time, Anne and Webster’s names and voices are known to many professional singers of the present generation. 

I heard this morning that Joseph Ward, head of opera studies at the RNCM for 18 years until 1991 when he took up a position in Australia, had died. He was a staunch supporter of the work that the late Jean Buckley had done to promote the Webster Booth award at the RNCM and said in  a letter to her in 1991:

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you especially for your hard work in promoting the Webster Booth Esso award. In doing so you have established a very valuable scholarship which has already benefitted several of our students and will, no doubt, continue to promote the careers of young singers for many years to come.

Sadly, Esso withdrew its sponsorship of the award several years later.


Jean Collen
© December 2009
Updated January 2019
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